On your next commute home or while walking around your city, take a moment to look around. You might notice a construction site for the latest mall redesign or a street sweeper making its way down the bustling roads. It may be surprising to some that these applications typically involve sheet rubber. The non-attuned passerby probably misses this simply because rubber material is beyond his realm of expertise. It’s reasonable—awareness of rubber’s widespread role isn’t layman knowledge. What is a rubber sheet? The answer to this question isn’t that obvious now that you think about it. Most people are highly familiar with soft rubber products, such as large rubber sheets and a non-slip rubber sheet, but they don’t have the technical knowledge required to give a complete answer to the question, “what is a rubber sheet?” By reading this article, you will certainly learn what is a rubber sheet—at least. But, as you’ll soon see, there’s much more to rubber than meets the eye.
What Are Rubber Sheets Used For?
Rubber sheets are used for a wide range of applications—whether they are residential or industrial. These applications include home-floor renovations, as well as construction-zone safety enhancements. Rubber sheet material permeates our everyday lives, and its applications are broad and typically tied to the industrial world. However, basic literacy in the many uses of these rolls of rubber can unlock their potential to better your own life. Now that we know generally what are rubber sheets used for, let’s delve into the essentials of what is a rubber sheet. As a complement, we’ll also take a look at how rubber sheet manufacturing is done.
To start, it is important to know that there are four broad groups for classifying rubber: recycled rubber, reclaimed rubber, synthetic rubber, and natural rubber. These four different classes provide the basis of different rolls of rubber. And each type of rubber occupies a distinct position in the infrastructural ecosystem. Recycled rubber is primarily made from recycled tire crumb that has been re-bonded via adhesives. Now, don’t confused recycled rubber with reclaimed rubber. Reclaimed rubber is also made from discarded rubber products such as tires, but the process to produce reclaimed rubber differs from that which is used to make recycled rubber. Principally, reclaimed rubber is de-vulcanized, then re-vulcanized. This process creates a sheet rubber which differs from recycled sheet rubber in that its seamless—without evidence of crumbs. Then, there is natural rubber, which is harvested from Hevea brasiliensis, a tree native to areas in South America, Africa, and Asia. Through a tapping process, latex is extracted from the tree and left to dry. And after few more steps, this process eventually yields natural rubber.
Synthetic rubber is among the broadest category of rubber sheet material. Most commonly, synthetic rubber is derived from butadiene and styrene, byproducts of petroleum. These gases are combined with different materials to produce sheets that have different chemical and physical properties. Part of the appeal offered by these rubber sheets is that they can combine with different compounds to manipulate the features in which each one excels. There are all sorts of synthetic rubbers—each specializes in certain attributes. Whether you need a chemically-resistant floor or whether you seek a heat-resistant material, finding the right type of synthetic rubber for your task is of utmost importance.
In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most popular compounds and their benefits. Neoprene rubber is among the most popular types of rubber because of its broad use and great resistance to chemicals and temperature. Styrene butadiene rubber (SBR), on the other hand, offers excellent abrasion resistance and protection against UV and ozone. Thermoplastic rubber’s (TPR’s) combination of properties from both rubber and plastic can be the ideal product for extreme temperatures. Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber is perfect for outdoor use because it offers superior resistance to UV and ozone, and Nitrile rubber (NBR) is resistant to fuels and oils, among other chemicals. Silicone rubber allows rubber sheet goods to have both resistance to chemicals and temperature. With a seemingly endless amount of gauges and blends that sheet rubber can come in, it is obvious why rubber is such a common part of our everyday lives. Note that this article is intended to advance your general knowledge of rubber products, so this section can seem like something of a mouthful. For more detailed insight into one of these types of rubber, please refer to one of our articles that addresses your inquiry directly.
What Are the 5 Different Types of Rubber Sheets?
Without accounting recycled and reclaimed rubber, there are five different types of rubber sheets: natural rubber sheets, EPDM rubber sheets, neoprene rubber sheets, nitrile rubber sheets, and silicone rubber sheets. In previous sections, we identified four broad groups of rubber materials. The five rubbers we’ve just highlighted—except for natural rubber—are subsets of one broad group: synthetic rubbers. We’ve identified what are the 5 different types of rubber sheets, let’s explore further the manufacturing processes that go into making “roll” rubber.
Now that you’re familiar with all the rubber materials, let’s look at how rubber sheet manufacturing is done. There are two main ways to make rubber sheets. The first method is called molding, a process wherein the rubber compound is solidified into a particular shape using a mold. Molding, however, is not as popular as extrusion. Extrusion is a process where raw material is forced through a stamping tool called a die in order to produce longer piece rolls of rubber. This method is especially cost-effective when you want to produce more material since extrusion yields longer lengths of product. Together, these methods are used to create a plethora of rubber sheet material—some of which lines gaskets, form conveyer belts, and even protects laboratory equipment. The potential applications of sheet rubber (or elastomer sheets) are virtually limitless. With its many types and with each type’s many uses, what is a rubber sheet capable of is obvious. To those without the basic knowledge of rubber, the topic of what is a rubber sheet might be an enigma. But with an article like this one, your next encounter with sheet rubber—perhaps black rubber sheeting, a black rubber roll, red rubber sheets, or white rubber sheets—will be imbued with a certain significance: for the first time, it seems that rubber has awoken within your everyday field of perception. You’ll notice that it’s everywhere—used for almost everything. That’s why we’ve set out to make knowledge of rubber products more widespread. It’s a material whose potential is truly astounding.